For me, photographing wildlife is not what I’d call a personal “passion”. It’s enjoyable, but I can take it or leave it. Except when it comes to these guys. My wife and I love Bighorn Sheep. And one of the best places to find them, I think, is in the upper plateau (eastern) region of Zion NP. We’ve been to Zion many times and I can’t remember a trip where we didn’t see any Bighorn. There’ve been trips when we weren’t close enough to get any decent photographs, but we’ve always managed to see at least one or two climbing around in Zion’s red rocks.
On this last trip we got really lucky. We’d just climbed out of our favorite slot canyon area and were relaxing by the Jeep when we saw a number of sheep coming down the side of a nearby cliff. What was most interesting was that there were some youngsters in the group.
So I got out my longest lens (420mm with the crop factor applied) and got as close to them as I could. Maybe too close.
Not the best composition, but I love the “expression” on this one. He (or she) had just spotted me and for a few seconds didn’t seem to know what to do. So we just stared at each other for a while.
I’m not sure how old these youngsters were, but what amazed me was their ability to navigate the rocks and cliffs. Apparently a talent that they’re born with.
I think this guy might have been the alpha male in the group. He seemed to be doing most of the sentry duty. But I’m not sure. Heck, sometimes I have a tough time telling the males from the females………
In any case, I couldn’t have asked for a better pose. The eye is clearly visible, the neck is turned, and the location is perfect. Most importantly he’s not eating! More than anything, I think, an eating animal makes for a poor photograph.
There’s one other problem with wildlife photography: to get a few good images you have to take a lot of them. It’s not like you can ask them to stand still while you’re setting up. While the images posted here are decent, I’ve got a lot, lot more of Bighorns eating grass or bushes, or pictures where they suddenly turned around and I got a great shot of their butt. And I’ve even got one where my subject decided to take a dump. But I certainly can’t complain. I’d invaded their turf, not the other way around.